Customer experience is so yesterday. The energy and conversation are rapidly shifting to employee experience. Organisations are timidly embracing the idea of the employee role in the business as more than merely a cost on the balance sheet.
For years organisations have trotted out the shop-worn platitude “our employees are our greatest asset” any time operating decisions needed a veneer of humanity, so the focus is long overdue. However, the current approach to employee experience also gives me pause, as within the new embrace I’ve noticed the conversation falling mainly into two buckets:
- Customer experience firms lassoing employee experience as a function of customer experience delivery; and
- Human resource departments elbowing in to rebadge culture.
So while both buckets have a role to play, neither is the whole story.
Yes, actively bringing the employee into the fold of customer experience design is long overdue. Last year I wrote about the inexorable ties between customer and employee experience and I can’t think of a job where the customer is not relevant on some level. I’m equally sure people taking jobs are likewise aware that without customers their position wouldn’t exist.
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However, it’s a big jump to the left from awareness to expecting customers to become an employee’s sole motivation. They are not merely customer experience delivery vehicles with their needs framed from that perspective.
Likewise, after decades of HR engagement surveys, fictional value statements and perks to distract people from their plight, there is undoubtedly an opportunity to take a fresh and more grounded look at improving the everyday experience of employees. I’m just not sure that is what’s going on.
Some see a massive opportunity and are trying to take a broader view. Researcher and author Jacob Morgan writes, “Employee experience, on the other hand, is about actually changing the workplace practices around the people who work there”. To that end, his research examines how companies handle culture, technology and physical space.
His Employee Experience Index evaluates 252 global organisations across 17 variables in those three areas with somewhat predictable results, leading with the big three tech companies, Facebook, Google and Apple.
It at least tackles the multifaceted influences that comprise an employee’s experience, but it’s far from a perfect approach, falling back on tried and true justifications such as productivity, profitability and stock price.
When experience is justified in financial terms it short-changes the full opportunity and benefit of the employee’s contribution and reward. Sure, financial gains can be a result of putting people at the forefront of how the organisation thinks and acts, but it’s a terrible way to measure it.
Another person tackling the space with humanity is author, Wharton professor and podcaster Adam Grant. His podcast WorkLife takes an inside-out view of the unexpected and unusual things that bring an employee’s experience to life – from managing technology’s tentacles, to a world without bosses and the trouble with high achievers.
That is the tiny tip of a colossal iceberg of content out there around this burgeoning topic. However, to embrace the full opportunity of employee experience, people working on it will need to find ways to think about that lived experience as more than an extension of the customer, and measure the impact in more than financial terms.
How do you think about and measure your employees’ experience?
See you next week.